New York Times bestselling author John Stephens delivers a riveting new crossover novel set against a brilliantly rendered historic New York. Filled with John’s trademark storytelling mastery and humour, THE BLOODY HEART OF IT is a mystery packed with suspense and action, and—most of all—a phenomenal love story that will have readers aching to get to the last page.
THE BLOODY HEART OF IT
by John Stephens
Knopf/Penguin Random House, Spring 2025
(via Writers House)
But what is this trouble you’re in, Mary? Why do you say you’re scared? Who are you scared of? I have been able to hold this panic at bay all the way across the vast cold Atlantic, but now that I’m here, my fears have crowded in close. . . My heart is bursting. We shall be together again, Mary. We shall be whole.
Set in New York at the turn of the 20th Century, THE BLOODY HEART OF IT follows Caitlin, a seventeen-year-old Derry native who crosses the Atlantic in search of her beloved twin sister Mary, who ran away more than a year before (fifteen months, two weeks, and one day, to be exact). After an excruciating silence, Mary has finally written to her sister that she’s in America—and she’s in trouble, and desperately afraid. Of what, she dares not say.
Where Mary is dreamy and angelic, Caitlin is flinty and tough as an axe head—but America is not Ireland, and bitterly cold New York is not the village Caitlin has always known. On her hunt for what happened to her sister, the bold and sharp-witted Caitlin is quickly drawn into a perilous underworld of corrupt policeman and violent criminals—people prepared to carry out unspeakable acts to conceal the truth.
Enter William Furey. As a boy, he was rescued from the streets by a notorious gangster, Frank Shannon. As a man, molded in Frank’s image, William’s sweet face belies his reputation as one of NYC’s most feared killers. Nicknamed after the fabled Irish warrior Cu’ Chulainn, he wrestles with an unnameable internal force—a cold, metallic anger that causes him to commit brutalities he has no memory of.
William too is scouring New York’s streets and alleys for the truth about Mary. Her story is a common one. She left Ireland, came to New York, and got into trouble. There’s nothing to suggest anyone should be interested in her—but there are strange whispers circulating, and William has been ordered to uncover their source.
When his search leads him to Caitlin, their initial wariness of one another quickly transforms into something else—an irresistible something that neither one of them has ever known before. The suddenness and strength of it forces William to choose between the life he’s been living until then, and the only father he’s ever known, or a life tied to Caitlin and her hopeless devotion to Mary. Between being Frank’s Cu’ Chulainn, and the William Furey that Caitlin sees. A choice to love—and to die in the choosing.
John Stephens is the New York Times bestselling author of the middle-grade fantasy trilogy The Emerald Atlas, The Fire Chronicle, and The Black Reckoning, which were published in more than thirty-five languages. In his spare time, he has been a writer-producer of such shows as Gilmore Girls, The O.C., Gossip Girl, Gotham and Pennyworth. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, two children and two dogs.